Drone Delivery Canada Corp has signed an agreement with the University of British Columbia (UBC) as part of UBC’s remote communities drone transportation initiative (DTI).

The project will test the flight infrastructure required for defined-route deliveries using DDC’s Sparrow drone for deliveries to Stellat’en First Nation, the aboriginal community of Stellako, located in Central Northern British Columbia, Canada.

DDC will install enabling infrastructure, including its DroneSpot takeoff and landing zones, over the summer and expects to begin providing drone delivery services during the second half of 2021. The trial is DDC’s fourth First Nations project but its first in British Columbia.

All operations will be conducted in accordance with appropriate Canadian regulations. Flights will be remotely monitored by DDC from its operations control centre located in Vaughan, Ontario.

“We’re pleased to have finalised our contract with Drone Delivery Canada and to be moving on to the next stage of this project. As we transition into a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the risk of wildfires, we are looking forward to learning about how this innovative transportation technology can be used to meet community needs and help address inequities in access to health-care supplies and services,” said Dr Michael Allard, Vice Dean, Health Engagement, UBC Faculty of Medicine.

“Based on the isolated location of our community and the needs of our residents, drone transport may enhance our access to COVID-19 testing and medication without traveling and endangering other members of our community,” said Chief Robert Michell of the Stellat’en First Nation. “The futuristic potential of this initiative is exciting. With drone technology, there is so much you can do.”

The project is supported by pension-fund backed LifeLabs, Canada’s leading provider of laboratory diagnostic information and digital health connectivity systems.

“We applaud this UBC Faculty of Medicine initiative to embrace drone delivery to benefit First Nations communities. We also look forward to working with LifeLabs as an important partner in this project. LifeLabs will be supporting the project to ensure an end-to-end solution by participating in data evaluations, sample logistics and training,” said Michael Zahra, President and CEO of DDC.

“Improved delivery times of essential supplies to remote locations can make all the difference in protecting the Stellat’en First Nation community and saving lives,” said Charles Brown, President and CEO of LifeLabs. “We are proud to be participating in this project that will also help to advance our knowledge for the future use of drone technology to transport clinical materials and samples for lab testing.”